Opponent Funded Bonanza Spring Study

Mojave Desert Land Trust Funded Study of Desert Springs Debunked by 10 Experts | 4-26-18


On April 14, the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT), which opposes the Cadiz Water Project despite court-confirmed scientific findings that it will not harm desert ecosystems, publicized a new paper that speculates the project could harm Bonanza Spring. Bonanza Spring is more than 11 miles from the Project area, more than 1,400 feet of elevation higher than the Project wellfield and separated from the alluvial aquifer beneath the Project area by unsaturated soils.


Recent geologic findings or the field work done by Mojave Desert geologist Miles Kenney, Ph.D. and hydrologist Terry Foreman that proved the spring was formed by the convergence of two faults that give it a subterranean watershed of more than 3,000 acres. Kenny and Foreman also showed conclusively that the spring is geologically separated from the Cadiz Valley aquifer below. This information was not mentioned in the MDLT report.


Since the MDLT report was publicized, Kenney, Foreman and a number of experts who’ve also been to the field to observe Bonanza Spring and the surrounding geology reviewed the MDLT’s findings. One of those experts, Dr. John M. Sharp, Jr. (Professional Geologist (PG), Professional Hydrogeologist (PHG), Professional Earth Scientist (PES), David P. Carlton Professor of Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, Representative to the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Ph.D. Hydrogeology from the University of Illinois), concluded this of the MDLT paper:


The hypothesis presented in the Mojave Desert Land Trust paper by Andy Zdon does not present a credible physical model for Bonanza Spring discharging from a regional flow system.  The geology and water level data do not support his guess.   Moreover, there is not a credible physical model that would show the Cadiz pumping can affect the Spring.  The distance of eleven miles, and 1,400 feet change in elevation between the Cadiz well-field and the Bonanza Spring along with the obvious faulting make such an impact impossible.”


Nine experts have concurred with Dr. Sharp’s conclusion: 


  • Dr. Miles Kenney: Professional Geologist (PG), former geology lecturer at San Diego State University, Ph.D. Geology and Faulting (University of Oregon)
  • Terry Foreman: Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG), M.S. Geology (University of Missouri, Columbia)
  • Tim Parker: Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG), Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG), Director of the Groundwater Resources Association of California, Director of the National Groundwater Coalition, former senior engineering geologist at the California Department of Water Resources, B.S. Geology (University of California, Davis)
  • Dr. Dennis Williams: Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG), Founder and President at GEOSCIENCE, Ph.D. Hydrology (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)
  • Brian A. Villalobos: Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG), Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG), Principal Geohydrologist at GEOSCIENCE, B.S. Geology (California State University, Los Angeles)
  • Mark Wildermuth: Professional Civil Engineer (PE), President of Wildermuth Environmental, Inc., M.S. Water Resources Engineering (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Anthony Brown: Principal Hydrologist at Aquilogic, Inc., M.S. Engineering Hydrology, (Imperial College London)
  • Dr. Charles G. “Chip” Groat: Professor at Louisiana State University, Acting Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey, former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Ph.D. Geology (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Dr. Toby Moore: Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Hydrogeologist (CHG), Water Resources Manager and Chief Hydrogeologist for the Golden State Water Company, Director of the California Groundwater Coalition, Ph.D. Geology (University of California, Los Angeles)


Geologic evidence has shown Bonanza Spring is not connected to the alluvial aquifer where the Project will be operated and therefore it will not be affected by project operations. However, to ensure these conclusions are accurate, the Project’s California Environmental Quality Act review requires monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to protect Bonanza throughout the life of the Project.  This includes a floor, or limit, to project operations at the wellfield to less than 1% per year of water in storage and regularly published monitoring reports among other components.  Importantly, the MDLT paper concludes with recommendations of this very type of monitoring.  The County of San Bernardino, not Cadiz, will enforce this management plan and it has been upheld in Court.


Finally and importanly, MDLT’s paper not only ignores the conclusive studies in the court-upheld Project Environmental Impact Report and the more recent Kenney-Foreman study, but it also ignores the National Park Service’s statement on the Mojave Desert’s springs and seeps:


“Most springs and seeps in Mojave National Preserve are located along the southwest–northeast trending spine of mountains that includes the Granite, Providence, New York, and Castle mountains. They discharge from aptly named perched aquifers, which occur above the regional water table often on a valley wall or hillside and are primarily “filled” or recharged by rain and snow melt.


Additional analysis of the MDLT paper can be found in this brief rebuttal by Dr. Dennis Williams of GEOSCIENCE:  www.cadizwaterproject.com/2018-Bonanza-Spring-Study

– – –

Add your name to the list of Cadiz Water Project Supporters: >>>